The other day I was watching “Tomorrow with you,” a K-drama about a guy who can time travel when he goes through a specific subway station. He became the CEO of a real estate company to maximize this opportunity as he sees the urban planning and land appreciation of the future. He also uses the latest gadgets and products that would give him a more stylish and comfortable lifestyle. He goes back and forth in time and sees the future trends and events to make the most out of it.
This made me wonder about the possibilities if I, too, can see the future and what I will do to use such knowledge to my advantage. Coincidentally, in my Sustainable Management class, I came across the term “megatrends.” These are “major movement, pattern or trend emerging in the macro-environment,” these can be considered as the driving force behind what happens today that will have a significant impact tomorrow. It is what can inspire people, an organization, the government, etc. to the direction of their strategies for the future. “A few examples of megatrends include Global Warming and climate change; Scarcity of vital resources such as food, water and land; Global population growth; Urbanization; Digitization and robotics; Artificial Intelligence; Shifts in geopolitical power; Global Pandemics; Human longevity and associated health and care challenges.” These trends are closely knit together that there’s no other way but to prepare for it.
Megatrends would have a significant impact on developing countries such as ours, the Philippines, where the country’s birth rate remains significantly higher than the world average, as well as the average for the Southeast Asian region. We may see population growth as an edge over our European and American counterparts who are projected to have a decline in population.
These demographic and social changes may create opportunities as well as challenges for the government, businesses, and other stakeholders. While population growth would generate economic growth in our labor force for the future, it could also mean greater investment in the youth.
Parents’ purchase of food, clothing, shelter, and education, will ensure their growth, development, and protection of the children, as well as fuel the economy. In return, these activities create a more urbanized society. But, with urbanization, issues such as overpopulation, waste, and resource shortages like food, land, water, etc. should be put into consideration.
This scenario made me think of the “environmentalist’s paradox” where “the more we deplete our resources and degrade our ecosystems, the more average human well-being improves globally.” This includes manufacturing corporations whose activities result in the production of greenhouse gases. Also, consumers like us create massive wastes that we do not know how to manage. We tend to ignore the trade-offs between our lifestyle and the environmental impact of our consumption. This economic growth depletes our resources and degrades our environment.
I then wondered how urbanization could be good for the country. Well, urbanized societies would be able to create opportunities for countries to build better infrastructure, health care systems, smart and eco-friendly cities, and more organized resource management if the government and other stakeholders will be able to create a strategy and cooperate in the development and growth for the country.
The Philippines has started to make small steps towards development and growth. An example is the current President’s “build, build, build program” before the COVID-19 pandemic, which would decongest not only the roads but also create jobs for the Filipino people. We have also started to have green cities such as BGC and Clark, and more environmentally conscious citizens who use eco-bags and refrain from using single-use plastics. We may still have a long way to go in terms of strategy and compliance, but we are trying as a nation to improve and move forward continually.
We must move towards change in practices in our construction, use of utilities, manner of transportation and logistics, and, most importantly, our health. We as a country should continually aim to create healthy cities where every person is an advocate of a robust work environment, relationships are built on trust and mutual respect, and a flourishing society may it be in terms of social, digital, or financial.
We may be able to do this as a nation if we start with being respectful, responsible, and aware of each stakeholder’s welfare. We ought to begin by educating our youth.
Megatrends are tools on how we could strategize for our future, but it will still depend on us and how we act today so we may be able to move forward to create the sustainable future that we want.
The author is an MBA student of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University. This article is part of her blog, a requirement of the courses, Sustainable Business.
The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of De La Salle University, its faculty, and its administrators.